Onus on young batsmen

Jadeja set to replace Tiwary in must-win game for visiting team

Onus on young batsmen

 “I am telling you, India won’t lose tomorrow’s match,” quipped the taxi driver on the way to The Oval, the venue for Friday’s third one-dayer. “...Because it’s expected to rain heavily,” he went on to add with a loud laugh.

Save for the first one-dayer at Chester-le-Street, where Mahendra Singh Dhoni and company threatened to snap their losing streak before rain played spoilsport, the visitors haven’t looked the part on this tour. While the series of defeats, made worse by a spate of injuries, has left the World champions a wounded lot, it is hard to miss the confidence the English side carries.

Friday’s day-nighter, scheduled to start at 1.00 pm local time (5.30 pm IST) because of floodlight rules in the area, offers India one last chance to keep their hopes alive of a series win on this tour after losses in the Tests and the lone T20 international. Down 0-1, if they lose, they can at best draw the series by winning the next two matches. But if there is no result, they will still have a chance of claiming the NatWest Trophy.

Amid all that has gone wrong for India, the promising show by the young reinforcements must have gladdened their hearts. Ajinkya Rahane has been the find of the series at the top of the order with a fearless display of batting while Parthiv Patel seems to have found a second wind. The two youngsters have successfully negated the absence of the regular openers, providing good starts in the last two matches.

The challenges the shorter format offers are of course different and the flatter surfaces may have blunted England’s bowling to an extent, but that shouldn’t take anything away from the way Rahane and Parthiv have batted. Unafraid to pull and take the aerial route, the duo has brought about a refreshing change. After his travails in the Tests, Suresh Raina appears to be at home in a version he is comfortable in. Clueless against bouncers not too long ago, the left-hander has turned the pull into one of his more productive shots and subsequently has forced the English pacemen to bowl to his strengths.

The more trusted Virat Kohli, however, has gone cold and Dhoni is yet to come into his own in the limited batting time he has got. Rahul Dravid, meanwhile, has managed the stabilising job without sacrificing the rate of scoring, but it’s the bowlers that are a worry for the visiting side. Given the nature of the pitch and the fast outfield, India could have done with a few more runs on Tuesday but the way England batted, even a 200-plus total would have proved inadequate.

It’s almost certain that left-handed all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja will replace Manoj Tiwary, the Saurashtra player expected to solve their problem of a fifth bowler. Sachin Tendulkar’s replacement, S Badrinath, too joined the squad on Thursday, but will have to warm the benches.

Riding a wave of success, England haven’t even found it necessary to summon a replacement for the injured Eoin Morgan, who is an integral part of their set-up in the abridged version. They might have been a bit surprised by the resilience the Indians have exhibited through their youngsters, but that certainly hasn’t rattled them.
DH News Service

Teams (from):

England: Alastair Cook (capt), Craig Kieswetter, Jonathan Trott, Ian Bell, Ravi Bopara, Samit Patel, Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann, James Anderson, Ben Stokes, Jade Dernbach, Steven Finn.

India : Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt), Parthiv Patel, Ajinkya Rahane, Rahul Dravid, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Manoj Tiwary, Ravindra Jadeja, S Badrinath, R Ashwin, Praveen Kumar, R Vinay Kumar, Munaf Patel, Amit Mishra, RP Singh, Varun Aaron.

Umpires: Marais Erasmus (South Africa) and Nigel Llong (England). Third umpire: Billy Doctrove (West Indies). Match referee: Jeff Crowe (New Zealand).

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